Motoring Memories

Some of my friends collect old cars. But they don’t always keep them in good running condition. This can lead to uncomfortable moments. There was a meeting at the Bull and Butcher in Turville, 4 miles away, of a vintage car club to which I was invited. “I will collect you as there will be many vintage cars there and not much room”., Peter collected me in one of his several cars while it was still daylight and it never occurred to me to ask him if the old car’s lights were working. It was a pleasant evening that went on until well after dark. And then, of course, we had to get back home and I discovered the car had no lights. This did not worry Peter in the slightest. “ I have a torch which you can hold” he said. The road between Turville and my house are not very wide and the prospect of standing up holding a torch in an open car did not appeal to me. Peter failed to persuade me to give it a try – it was pitch black night and no street lights. In the end Peter got two club members to box us in and in this way we got home.

I have said little about my time with the Bond mini car apart from the moment when I left it at Stocks, 20 miles away, and was persuaded to use Miss Forbes-Dunlop’s Austin 10 when an emergency call from Ann required my immediate return home. This Bond was the first of a range of Bonds that sprung up in the early days after the war. It was a clever design – a 3-wheeler with the single steering wheel in front which also carried the engine, in this case a 148cc Villiers giving some 5HP and a maximum speed of about 30mph on the level. It had 3 speeds, all part of the engine unit and it would average about 100mpg. With seats for two it could manage a 1 in 6 gradient or a 1 in 4 if the passenger walked. It was a reliable and economical and that meant a lot in those difficult days. Germany produced the Messersmidt and Heinkel – both 3 wheelers, both of them with more powerful engines, faster and more expensive to boot if I may use such an expression for vehicles with little luggage carrying capacity!

I ran a DKW for a time. This had a small two-cylinder two-stroke engine with a dynastart which is a dynamo with its armature an extension of the engine crankshaft and therefore permanently engaged. It turned itself into an almost silent starter when you pressed the starter button. But there was a snag; the armature required very fine clearance and any appreciable wear in the engine crankshaft bearings and it wouldn’t work and demanded an expensive overhaul.

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